DPS concerned charter school leaders are out for ‘business opportunity’

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Another charter school could be coming to Durham, and this concerns some leaders in Durham Public Schools.

The state Charter Schools Advisory Board’s recently recommended the state to approve the proposed Oak Grove Charter Academy that would be located in the Gorman area in northeast Durham.

Oak Grove Charter Academy would serve 800 students K-8th and would open in a couple of years.

However, DPS board chairman Mike Lee said he is concerned about the CSAB’s decision to move forward with this charter school.

“Durham is already saturated with charter schools,” Lee said.

Lee said his biggest concern is none of this charter school’s board members live in Durham County.

“When you have entities that come from out-of-state or out of county saying one-size-fits-all, this may have worked somewhere else, it may not work in Durham,” Lee said.

Lee said there are already 13 charter schools in Durham.

Currently, he said that 18 percent of the school district’s budget goes to different charter schools that are attended by students who live in the Durham Public School district.

Lee said he thinks that this charter school and other charter schools are just looking for a simple business opportunity and that they pick Durham because of the high population of school-age students in the county.

“When you see our county commissioners have continued to increase our per people spending, you see the charter schools decide to set up shop here,” Lee said.

Gerald McNair, chairman of the Oak Grove Charter Academy, sent the following statement to CBS 17 about their board’s decision to put the school in Durham County:

“We all have a common goal: providing a high-quality education for every child in our community. That drives this board the same way it drives our peers. The board has a vested interest to ensure high-quality choice for Durham County students, as well as neighboring Granville. Their longevity living, working, and volunteering in this community is a testament to that.We are committed to adding board members who reside within the county and efforts to do so are underway. Our partnership with National Heritage Academies will provide the expertise and resources necessary to meet the needs of our community. We are excited by the unanimous approval of the Charter Schools Advisory Board, and look forward to continuing to invest in this community.”

Gerald McNair, chairman of the Oak Grove Charter Academy

CBS 17 reached out to the state Charter Schools Advisory Board for a comment, but did not hear back on Thursday.

Officials said it is not known when the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction will vote on whether to approve the Oak Grove Charter Academy.

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